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Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Humbling of Harriet Jago

Photo-story from Janus 162
Miss Harriet Jago was already something of a legend in the City. Blessed with a financial brain many in banking could only gasp at, it seemed unfair to some that she was also as darkly beautiful, charismatic and perfectly shaped as a film star. Still only 23 she was Head of Foreign Exchange at that venerable institution Gouldings Bank on Feather Lane, and her perceptive take on the exchange rates seemed akin to psychic ability rather than what it actually was, an immensely shrewd assessment of the constantly fluctuating world markets.
Among the banking fraternity she had become known as ‘Harriet the untouchable’. Her razor-keen mind cut through any debate, her honeyed tones seemed lined with steel as she alternately wooed and wowed, fired slack performers, hired hopefuls, cajoled investors.
A young woman of such profile inevitably attracted gossip and speculation. She seemed so perfect in every way, there were those who wondered whether doubt or human weakness ever assailed her. Ruthless in her dealings with others, she had managed to keep her sex life as much of a mystery as her background. Where men panted after her, she kept them at arm’s length; where women longed to learn the secret of her talent and allure, she merely smiled with sloe-dark eyes, fluttered long slumberous lashes, and changed the subject.
Some of her male colleagues, tormented by her perfumed presence on the trading floor, began to wonder if she was actually real. The movements of her body as she moved amongst them hinted at the curve of plush buttocks, the twin bulges of gorgeous breasts; but was she prey to the usual human urges, or above them all?
Neither subtle suggestions nor bold propositions on the part of smitten males had the least effect on Harriet Jago’s aloof magnificence. She had never been known to have a personal partner of either sex, and it was whispered that she had no feelings other than her phenomenally focused drive to excel.
She was the goddess queen whom no one could, quite literally, penetrate. Indeed, a crude joke currently doing the rounds of the young male dealers was that she had nothing to penetrate, being made of some incredibly realistic plastic that lacked genitalia under the highly expensive, exquisitely tailored City clothes.
So clever and careful was Harriet Jago, only those in the highest echelons of the bank became, in time, aware that their lofty heroine had anything other than perfection to light her through life. She might well have evaded discovery had it not been for that one unforeseen glitch, that fraction of a percent of a change in the Treasury base rate that went the wrong way for her. It revealed that she had been privately dealing in Futures with the bank’s money to amass huge profits for herself. Until that fatal day when the base rate hiccupped and lost the bank millions on sales of shares and investments secretly pre-agreed by the bank’s foreign exchange manager.
It was ‘crunch time’. Harriet Jago abhorred crude language as much as she disdained lewd behaviour and coarse jokes, so this expression in the private message from the bank’s chairman, Sir Elias Fortescue, offended her refined sensibilities. ‘Crunch time’, indeed.
But that’s what it was, and Harriet knew. Quite what her fate would be she could only guess. Would the bank prosecute, as Barings did with their rogue trader Nick Leeson? Or would it merely dismiss her, in which case she would be entitled to severance pay which the bank was, with good reason, unwilling to pay. She could, of course, do the honourable thing and resign, but that would see her out on the street without a bean and with negative credentials that would close all doors to her.
For several weeks Harriet Jago was suspended on full pay while her fate was debated at top executive level. At last it was Sir Elias himself who proposed that no more time should be wasted on this matter, that he would deal with it himself and allow his lieutenants to get on with the running of the bank.
It is no wish of the chronicler to hide from the Janus readership the fact that Sir Elias Fortescue, like so many other men, had developed something of a — how can we say this? — a fascination for Harriet Jago. He fancied her from afar, abstractly, as one might cherish a beautiful painting or artefact and wish to become an organic part of its mystical flawlessness.
Before she had sown the seeds of her disaster, Sir Elias had been thinking of grooming her for higher office in the bank. But the chairman was a stickler for truth and fair play. His own early days had not been easy. Giving and expecting no quarter, he had clawed his way up along the route of hard knocks. In his book, successes were rewarded and mistakes punished. The exquisite Miss Jago’s fall from grace had dismayed him, and he felt an avuncular — even fatherly — concern about her. In his view she needed humbling, ‘bringing down a peg or two’ as his mother might once have said. In this way, he felt, her situation might just be salvageable — although, as Shakespeare had it, it would be necessary ‘to be cruel, only to be kind’.
So the e-mail he finally sent her was stark and to the point:
Dear Miss Jago
Crunch time is here. You made a serious mistake, and must pay for it. Not necessarily financially, for we have, as you know, insurances in place to cover unforeseen losses. But the standoff can continue no longer. Meet me in the gentlemen’s gym area by the squash locker-room at 20.00 hours on Friday to discuss. Bring your I.D. pass which has not yet been confiscated, and tell Security (who will be alerted) that you are attending a top-secret meeting with me. We will not be disturbed.
You are not obliged of course to submit to what I propose to do with you, but reinstatement of a kind might be the outcome, and an end to this distressing matter.
It was strangely gloomy in there. Just a single lamp that threw shadows and lent mystery to the dark corners. Like an interrogation room, Harriet felt. She was aware of the tang of his aftershave before she saw him. An odd thrill ran through her, she tensed with subdued excitement. What would he ‘do with’ her?
Sir Elias let her wait. He knew she was aware of his presence, yet said nothing, just stood in the shadows gazing at her figure illuminated by the lamp. She looked dauntingly perfect to him, more remote and untouchable than ever. Wasn’t that her nickname? The untouchable.
When he did eventually touch her, as he had every intention of doing, would she pop like a balloon, or would her flesh be firm and silky? What was she like beneath those enticing but concealing clothes? Sir Elias hardly dared think of it, it sent his pulses racing and gave a slight ache to his head. Careful.
He wanted to reach out and stroke her, yet the disciplined part of his psyche was honed and alert, righteously angered and in full focus. She had cheated the bank to line her pockets. Was a wretch and a reprobate. She deserved a sound thrashing for being the wanton little thief she was. Clever, perhaps — but most thieves were clever. They had to be, in order to succeed. She was scum, of a kind he despised.
Then she saw the cane balanced on the trestle. Heat briefly flushed her face. A cane. She heard his footsteps. They rang out across the wooden flooring as he approached. This was like being in some stark Victorian school of dire imaginings. She had done wrong. Badly wrong.
And would be punished.
Never in all her life had she been slapped or smacked or struck with a stick. Such activities were crude and ludicrous, practised by debauched perverts. Her own sensibilities vibrated on a plane far above such baseness. Yet why did that gentle thrilling, like a smouldering in her solar plexus, continue to send pulses of excitement through her?
‘Now then, Harriet.’ His voice was quiet, conversational. A surprise: she had somehow expected him to make a noisy scene. ‘I’m going to call you by your first name in the way householders once addressed their servants. So don’t imagine it’s some form of familiarity I’m favouring you with.’
‘No, Sir Elias.’ Was that her voice, small, defiant, shivery?
‘Were going to get to know each other, you and I, in a way we couldn’t possibly have done had you not made your grave error of judgement.’
Harriet Jago glanced apprehensively round at him, her perfect profile etched by the lamp against the gloom. And froze with unexpected fear, he looked so implacably stern, even sinister.
‘What are you going to do with me?’ she whispered.
‘Give you a sound beating.’ She gaped in disbelief. Then he added: ‘During which I hope to find out if you’re real.’
‘Real? Of course I’m real. I don’t know what you mean.’
‘Some of the things I shall command you to do,’ he went on, ‘may seem odd to you. But you will do them anyway. Do I make myself clear?’
Harriet Jago frowned. ‘You must tell me what you want,’ she said, ‘and I’ll see if I want to do it, Sir Elias.’
‘No, Harriet.’ His mouth was close to her ear, his words like little painful projectiles. ‘You will obey my every instruction without question.’ He stepped away and sat down on a chair nearby. ‘Now then,’ he said, ‘turn around. I want to see what you have under your clothing.’
‘Just do as I say!’ he snapped. ‘We have a long evening ahead. By the end of it you will know, perhaps for the first time, what it’s like to be properly punished and — yes — wilfully humiliated for having done a grievous wrong. I intend it that you will feel pain, shame and despair. I will use several implements on you. Some will sting viciously. Your buttocks will be blazing like fire, tears will pour down your cheeks, you will beg me to stop. But I will not, not until I know that you are truly contrite and have learned your lesson. And this, as I can already see by your attitude, is likely to take some time.’
She stared as if he’d gone mad. ‘I don’t think any of this is legal, Sir Elias.’
‘Legal be buggered. Either submit or get out. There are no witnesses, so who would believe you? Now, turn your back.’
‘I beg your pardon?’
‘Do as you are told!’
Harriet turned her back on him, beginning to tremble. She felt in free-fall, tumbling out of control through space. The feeling was not entirely unpleasant, this surrendering of all decision to a dominant male force overwhelming her own strong will. It had never happened before. The thrilling sensations began again.
‘Raise your skirt. I wish to look at your bottom.’
‘What?’ she gasped.
‘Your wickedly naughty arse, Miss Harriet Jago, which is soon to receive so much of my painful attentions!’
Harriet was still swooping through space. Nothing made sense any more. The world had gone mad. She felt coolness on her gradually exposed legs in the lacy black hold-ups, then heard him suck breath sharply in as the round cheeks of her bottom in skimpy matching panties came into view. And as he looked more closely, murmuring rapt appreciation, the thrillings in her tummy began again.
What then transpired passed like some shockingly embarrassing, pain-drenched dream. His hands, rough yet intimate, were on her body. At first she struggled with surprise, then they were pulling her irresistibly down across his knees and the room was suddenly loud with echoing smacks and her bottom seemed consumed by flames. Her buttocks flinched and bounced as the searing shocks blasted repeatedly through them till she knew they must be scarlet, her voice was hoarse from screaming and this madness could surely not be happening.
But it was. As Sir Elias warmed to his task he couldn’t resist pausing at times to grope and squeeze Harriet Jago’s luscious orbs, as if to convince himself that they were not some figment of his deliriously dreaming mind. They felt warm and springy, silk-soft. After squeezing more and feeling her squirm with embarrassment under his insolently roaming palms, she screeched afresh as her bottom blazed again under the resumed torrent of spanks, till his hand smarted and he was panting for breath.
Then her panties were wrenched down and her bottom was entirely bare. It continued to bounce, jerk and wriggle under his thunderous smacks. When his arm began to tire and his hand stung a little too much, Sir Elias thought again of what this beautiful female had done, and his spanking became even more vigorous.
At last he thrust her, sobbing harshly, from across his thighs, and she stayed kneeling, gazing tearfully up at him, yielding to his dominance. His every command was now obeyed, and as the acute burning began to fade a little from her bottom, he demanded that she remove her dress.
Harriet was panting. The odd thrillings had pooled in her groin. Being almost naked, punished soundly in this most intimate way, knowing that she was in acute disgrace, with a man against whom she knew she could not prevail, took her beyond all personal shame. Never in her life had her sexual needs made such demands, and this experience was taking her into uncharted realms of the senses.
She would never remember how it began, but her hand was inside her knickers, urgently seeking the solace her body craved. She didn’t care that the top man in the bank she had disgraced herself at was staring in shock at what she was doing — if she was meant to feel abasement, let it be all-consuming! She simply didn’t care as she wanked with increasing urgency, squatting down on her haunches to continue, the smarting in her buttocks somehow contributing to the intense sensations, till she orgasmed with shuddering groans as the ecstatic spasms subsided.
She knew the chairman was shaken at what she’d done, and for a brief while felt ascendancy over him. Blushing, she look him full in the face and said with a wanton shrug, ‘Now do you doubt whether I’m real, Sir Elias?’
What followed was, for Harriet Jago, like a whirlwind striking. In fury that she should not only be seen to make light of her ordeal, but was actually deriving pleasure from it, caused Sir Elias to haul her down across the trestle, pick up the cane and proceed to deliver to the voluptuous target the most painful and prolonged caning. With her shame now thoroughly established, the young woman threw off all restraint and gave vent to shrieks and pleas that rang out lustily as the whippy shaft whistled in to collide repeatedly, and with ever-increasing, force against her streaked and ravaged buttocks. She yodelled her pain, begged, sobbed, clawed at the trestle, wrenched her hips from side to side, trampled the floor so hard that her high-heeled feet made drumbeats on the wood. It was the thrashing of a lifetime.
Not till he knew she could take no more, did Sir Elias finally desist, panting from his exertions. As Harriet Jago squeezed at her anguished buttocks, streaked and wealed as they were, he knew the cane-marks would take several days to fade — a constant reminder of the atonement she had been made to suffer.
He gripped her under the chin and pushed her lovely head flinchingly back, his eyes hard as flint on hers. ‘Now then, Harriet,’ he bit out, ‘I’m going to suggest to the board that you be temporarily reinstated, on one month’s probation.’
He saw hope flare in her tear-drenched eyes.
‘However,’ he went on, ‘part of the deal is that for the next four weeks you and I will meet again in this room at the same time, to undergo further correctional measures as an aide-memoire, until I’m completely convinced that you have learned your lesson. Failure to turn up and submit yourself to my will on any one of those occasions will mean instant and irrevocable dismissal.’
He glared at her for several seconds more, then released her. ‘Well, do we have a deal?’
Time ticked away, and Harriet Jago said nothing. Sir Elias turned and, without further word, walked grimly to the door, leaving her to her own thoughts.
‘Yes, sir!’ came the tremulous cry, just when there seemed no time left. ‘We have a deal!’
The door slammed shut behind him, and the echo of it reverberated around the room.

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